According to latest studies, lawyers have overtaken the dentists in being the most stressed professionals in the United States. Obviously, this is a huge issue that needs to be addressed across the practice, but the truth is that lawyer or not, stress is something we all struggle with. And so, in the event that you're experiencing stress right this very minute, here are my top 10 ways I manage stress in the moment. If you're not experiencing any stress right now, that's great! Still, consider bookmarking (or Pinteresting!) this page in the event some unwelcome stress does wander your way -- perhaps then, something here will help you, too.
1. Listen to the sounds of nature for two minutes. This link will
take you to a site with a beautiful seascape and the sounds of the
ocean on it. Just sit and stare at it. If your mind strays to whatever
it is that's stressing you out, pull it back to the ocean. It's only
for two minutes. Everything else can wait.
2. Virtually visit the Sistine Chapel. For a more religiously-inspired moment of peace, you can click this link and virtually visit the Sistine Chapel at the Vatican in Italy.
You can even use your mouse to explore it, while a choir sings in the
background (so be sure to have your headphones on if you're working in a
3. Make a cup of tea. Although it makes no logical sense (since both coffee and tea contain caffeine),
coffee is usually associated with "waking up," while tea is associated
with "slowing down." So whenever I feel my blood pressure rise, I make a
cup of tea (decaffeinated, if I'm really stressed). In fact, I even travel with tea -- I always have a little baggie filled with my favourite teabags
in my handbag. I take my own tea to drink on planes (I'm a nervous
flyer), and often make myself a cup at night to wind down stressful days
on the road. Tea is like my instant reminder to breathe.
4. Practice a little aromatherapy.
I don't know anything about aromatherapy, but I do know that
when I smell lavender or eucalyptus, I feel immediately calmer. I once
as a freebee in a gift bag, and it's really fantastic to rub on my
hands and the back of my neck to relieve stress; however, one of the
easiest tricks while you're at the office is to simply have some
lavender-scented hand lotion nearby; or even better, scented sanitizer.
I like this one and this one -- great, calming scents and clean hands. Bonus.
5. Light a candle.
Something about the flickering light that helps make my surroundings
feel a bit calmer. And if you happen to work in an office where they'll
frown on an open flame, stick one of these in a small translucent container, and your mind may never know the difference.
6. Go outside.
Sometimes a change of scenery is all it takes. Take 5 minutes and go
outside, and breathe the air, people watch or whatever. Just change
focus for a few minutes.
7. Music, music, music.
For me, music is everything. A while back, I was having a pretty
lengthy procedure done at the dentist, and to get ready, my husband Marcus put
together a special playlist to take with me, filled with songs that
either made me happy or made me calm while I was in the chair. I call
it my "Keep Calm & Carry On" playlist. Put together a special one
for yourself for listening when you need to take a break.
8. Go to your happy place.
When things get a bit tough, I close my eyes and imagine myself
sitting in one of my favourite places of my memory (lately it's floating in the middle of the cove at Coco Reef, Tobago). A few minutes of imagination, and my heart rate slows down, and I'm ready to tackle life again.
I am certainly not a pro at meditation, and while I used to do it
daily, I have fallen deeply out of practice. (An aside: I will admit
that when I was meditating daily, I was far better at handling stress.
I'm here to tell you that a regular meditation practice is a very good
thing.) That said, nothing can restore my sanity like 5 minutes of
meditation. There are many ways to do it, and you can find all sorts of
instruction on the internet about how to do it (for beginners, I like this one and definitely this one). Ultimately, however, I would recommend doing whatever works for you. The point is to focus your mind. And for what it's worth, here's how I do it:
imagine that I'm alone in a dark tunnel, and there's a light ahead
just around a bend in the tunnel. As I walk toward it and around the
bend, I realize that there's another bend, and the light is actually
around that one. I continue to follow the light and the light continues
to move away from me. I imagine this for 5 minutes. When my thoughts
stray, I bring myself back to my tunnel, and start following the light
See? Simple. But if that doesn't work for you ...
Literally close your eyes and breathe. Inhale for 1 slow count, then
exhale for 1 slow count. Then inhale for 2 slow counts ... then exhale
for 2 slow counts. Then inhale for 3 slow counts ... and so on. Try to
get to 10 slow counts. When you think you can't inhale any more, just
do it anyway. And then exhale for 10 slow counts.
Then open your eyes.
Here's wishing you peace, friends.
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